I think it’s safe to say that Cambridge is going to be going far this season – they may even have a Championship game in their future, but don’t quote me on that. Kingston, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to get their feet under them as they haven’t been very consistent in 2 of their 3 games so far. Kingston fell victim to a very athletic and strong Ottawa Sooners team this past weekend and were outplayed from the 2nd quarter on. The Grens took the lead early going up 7-0 but were outscored 38-0 from then on. Kingston will need to get some stops this week against a good Cambridge offense and if they get rolling, it could be a long day. I expect that the Grens will shore up on their run defense forcing teams to have to beat them in the air. On offense, I think the Grens should trust QB Robbie MacAdam to be the guy. He may not necessarily be an explosive QB, but he seems to be efficient and can get the job done. Look for Kingston to try and get a downhill run game going this week to open up some passing lanes against a sometimes suspect Cambridge defensive backfield.
On the other side of this battle are the Cambridge Lions who are coming off of a big win against the Ticats are ready for action again this week. The Cambridge run defense was solid for most of the day keeping Hamiltons run game in check other than a few big runs here and there, it was in the pass game that Cambridge gave up their points. Look for the Lions to focus on their defensive backfield this week going against a Kingston team who wants to throw the ball against anyone, I expect Cambridge to be better lead by league leading tackler Braeden Berry and their big men on the DL. The Lions offense put up another impressive day passing with QB Michael Warner throwing for over 200 yards again, #18 Jackson Lewis had a big day for the Lions when the Ticats took away Cambridge's go to guy. The Lions had a consistent run game this past week with the help of Warner who is showing he can beat you with both his legs and arm, I expect Cambridge to continue week in and week out to try to sustain a running game for the lanes to open up for Warner and his receiving core.
I expect this game to be much of the same for Cambridge’s offense they will put up a lot of points but expect the Lions defense to bounce back in a big way.
Week 5 Prediction: Lions 34 – Grens 14
The Warriors fell to the Stampeders of Burlington last week in a closer game than myself and many anticipated. In the end they moved to 1-2 on the season with a 24-10 loss, for Mississauga there is plenty to build on though. The Warriors came out hot jumping out to a 7-0 lead with RB Jayden Kerr running in a score, they were the better team for the first half of this game and might have deserved a better outcome. The Warriors struggled all day long to get a consistent run game going and Kerr was constantly having to dip and dodge tackles well before he should've, they leaned on QB James Duke and he had an underwhelming day completing 11/23 for 90+ yards and 1 INT. That being said, the Warriors offensive line will need to step up in both pass protection and run blocking if Mississauga plans to turn their season around. The Mississauga defense did their part holding a very solid Burlington offense to 24 points and they never allowed Stamps QB Keagan Hall to get going which helped them stay in the game all day. Warriors linebacker Ethan Sardella lead the defense with 7 tackles and a forced fumble all day and was a key in keeping the powerful Stamps run game from getting going in full force. Expect for the Warriors to try and run the ball better this week in order for Duke to have some passing lanes open up, the Warriors defense needs to continue the momentum they gained this week.
The Ravens of Essex kept on rolling this past week beating the London Mustangs 35-20 and moving to 2-1 on the season, they were up 35-7 and the backups played this one out. Ravens runningback Boriz Wright had a great day with 17 carries for 180+ yards torching the London defense from the very beginning. Justin Pope and Ethan Mackinnon did their job da few times each scoring once and the Ravens continued to show they have a high octane offense that can beat you on the ground and through the air. The big boys up front for the Ravens were moving the pile and giving Heydon time in the pocket to make plays, the Ravens have a good group up front. On defense the Ravens were stingy for 3 quarters but eventually allowed the Stangs to pull through and score twice late into the game, there were a lot of backups in and Essex was in cruise control by that point but I'm sure they still aren't happy allowing those late points. The Ravens defense will need to be better against the run moving forward against better opponents and more important games they cannot allow 200+ yards of rushing to an average football team.
Essex will look to make a statement this week in their second crossover game of the season, look for the Ravens to shore up their run defense and roll early against the smaller Warriors defense. Heydon and Pope have another big day with some help from Boriz Wright and company.
Week 5 prediction: Ravens 35 – Warriors 10
The Sooners put on an impressive performance last week and are looking to put the pedal to the metal again this week. On offense the Sooners are led by star RB #1 John Lubemba and the big offensive line in front of him that moves the pile 2 and 3 yards at a time. Ottawa will need to get more consistent play out of their QB position if they want to be competing for a championship come August. The Sooners run game is elite and we all know they want to run the ball and are able to run the ball pretty much at will but eventually a team will shut that down and it will be a long day for Ottawa. On defense the Sooners have been spectacular all year long allowing minimal yards and points in every game they've played so far, the defense is showing to be one of the best in the league and if the offense can follow in its footsteps this team could be extremely dangerous. The Sooners are athletic at every single position and have multiple players that can return kicks and make big plays for them at any time and anywhere on the field. I expect the Sooners to continue to dominate in the run game this week but I would hope they use this week to try and establish a consistent pass game.
The Guelph Gryphons are having a long year and it doesn't seem like it’s going to stop anytime soon; they have tough games coming up on their schedule and they haven’t showed many signs of being able to improve enough to challenge the good teams in this league. On offense, they haven’t put any points up on the board and on defense, you almost feel bad for the Gryphons because they're constantly on the field and never have good field position in order to make a play. Luis Alfieri has been the leader and leading tackler for the Gryphons defense trying to make plays to keep this team in games. The Gryphons are a young team and are going to get better, but there aren't any breaks in the OPFL week after week you're playing a competitive team. They’re running out of time for those improvements to make an impact on their season.
Expect the Sooners to win big and Lubemba to have another big day in a big win.
Week 5 prediction: Sooners 41 – Gryphs 7
Hamilton is coming off a great game against Cambridge where they came up short 41-30 in a great football game. The Ticats offense came to play this past week and showed they have the ability to put up points and yards when they're on their game. QB Daniel Eldritch had an amazing day completing 25/38 for 424 and 3 touchdowns, but at the end of the day it was the 2 INTs that meant the most. Eldritch was getting anyone and everyone involved last week having 5 WRs go over 50+ yards of receiving, his favourite target on the day #14 Drake Bodi who had 166 yards and was burning Cambridge DBs all day. The Ticats run game wasn’t irrelevant either with Juawan Smith having 11 carries for 60+ yards. The Hamilton offense showed all game long that they will be able to score with the best of teams in this league they just need to get rid of the turnovers. The Hamilton offensive line played a great game against one of the best defensive fronts in the league and pushed the pile during the run game and gave Eldritch a pocket most times during the pass game, hats off to the Hamilton big men. On defense the Ticats were out of sync at times giving up multiple big passing plays at different times of the game. Hamilton also allowed the Cambridge run game to get going more than I'm sure they would have liked, the Ticats front 7 is very skilled and athletic and if I'm on their coaching staff I'm challenging those guys specifically this coming week. In order for Hamilton to get back to their winning ways they will need to play better on defense and get stops but most important they will need to hang onto the football and not turn it over 4 times. Hamilton will be better all around this week and I fully expect for their defense to take last week personally and bounce back strong.
On the flipside, the Cumberland Panthers had a strong showing on offense out dueling what many would've thought would be the better offense against Durham. The Panthers QB Ryan Licandro had a solid game passing the football going 11/18 113 yards and 2 scores showing he has the ability to pass the ball and move the ball downfield through the air. Licandro didn't have a favourite target this past week getting 7 different receivers involved and allowing all his playmakers to get in the game and make a play. The run game was a key cog to the Panthers victory with lead back Marvin Simba rushing for 105 of the teams 158 yards, Simba has proven week in and week out to be a consistent reliable back that will be hard to bring down and tackle as the game wears on. I expect the Cumberland offense to continue to have success being unpredictable, like I've said many times before being one dimensional is an extreme disadvantage for teams and this Panthers team is the opposite of that. I expect Hamilton to continue their momentum on offense coming off a 500 total yard day, I think Eldritch and his targets are better/deeper than the targets of Licandro.
Expect Simba to get his carries and yards but look for the playmakers of Hamilton to make 1 or 2 more plays, Ticats win.
Week 5 prediction: Ticats 38 – Panthers 27